How Do You Practice Hospitality?

My husband arranged for us to stay in a bed-and-breakfast called Max Paul for our first anniversary.

Each room had a distinct theme. Ours was based on an English Garden.

In the morning, upon hearing a gentle knock on the door of our room, we found a bountiful tray of breakfast delights and a pot of tea ready for us to enjoy. The host who had delivered it had disappeared before we opened the door.

On another occasion, we enjoyed a “bed and beach” stay in Oregon. The place had a tiny one-bedroom cottage with a deck, access to a large game room, a hot tub, and private beach access. There were pastries, tea, and other food items available as well for us to enjoy. The owner, like Max Paul’s bed-and-breakfast, greeted us on the night we arrived but otherwise left us alone.

Both locations were great for our introverted natures to enjoy solitude and rest together.

Sadly, neither of these places exists for public rental today. They tore Max Paul down to make room for an expanded highway. The “bed and beach” is no longer found in web searches for reasons unknown.

But there are many more options for vacation rentals from Airbnb and Vrbo to boutique hotels and large chains we can take advantage of for this purpose today.

These experiences are one type of hospitality. But are they the type of hospitality in 1 Peter 4:9?

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1Pe 4:9 ESV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hospitality as hospitable treatment, reception, or disposition.

Don’t you love it when a definition of a word contains the same word or one close to it? 

What does it mean to be hospitable?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hospitable as: 

1a. given to generous and cordial reception of guests

1b. promising or suggesting a generous and friendly welcome

1c. offering a pleasant or sustaining environment

2. readily receptive

Describe how these definitions of hospitality and hospitable support 1 Peter 4:9.

My husband and I experienced generous and cordial treatment at the bed-and-breakfast accommodations described earlier. But we were paying for this treatment. 

Both Max Paul and the Bed and Beach were in the hospitality business. They required a financial reward in return for their services. If they had provided this service while grumbling, do you think they would have received repeat business while they were still operating?

Likely the answer is no.

Again, is this the type of hospitality referred to in 1 Peter 4:9?

The answer is no. The context of the verse nine will help us determine what type of hospitality is in view.

Most scholars affirm that the apostle Peter is the author of this letter, written about AD 60-64. Peter’s theme throughout this letter is to provide hope and instructions on how to live while being persecuted for one’s faith. His audience included Christians of both Gentile and Jewish backgrounds in the Roman provinces of Asia Minor suffering persecution for their Christian faith. (See 1 Peter 1-3.)

Editors have organized the verses of this letter into chapters with topical headings.

Chapter four’s heading often is “Living for God,” or “Stewards of God’s Grace.”

The first six verses of chapter four review why Christ’s suffering is one reason for believers to give up anything that is contrary to God’s will.

Bible Study Questions

The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1Pe 4:7 ESV)

What does Peter mean by “the end of all things is at hand”? (See Acts 2:22-36.)

Why are self-control and a sober mind important for prayer? (See Romans 13:11.)

Why is prayer important to Christians? (See Matthew 26:41.)

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1Pe 4:8 ESV)

How would this reminder to “keep loving one another earnestly” be valuable to those under persecution?

How does love “cover a multitude of sins”? (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and James 5:20.)

Who is our best example of 1 Peter 4:8? (See Hebrews 9:26.) Why?

This brings us back to our verse for today:

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1Pe 4:9 ESV)

In Peter’s time, hospitality included providing lodging and provisions for travelers. 

What reasons might a person enduring persecution have for grumbling when asked to show hospitality to others?

Why is it important for us not to grumble when asked to provide hospitality? (See Philippians 2:14-15.)

Is there more involved than lodging and provisions when showing hospitality? Why or why not? (See Hebrews 13:2 and Philippians 2:14-15.)

Bible Study Blog

Personal Reflection Questions

Are you a safe person who offers others the grace, shelter, and presence of Jesus? Why or why not?

Who has been a safe person in your life when you needed grace, shelter, and the presence of Jesus? How or what did they do that helped you know they were a safe person for you?

What resources do you have that you can share with someone in the week to come so they feel welcomed not just by you, but by God?

Describe the difference between loving versus entertaining someone.

Are you ever spontaneous in inviting people to join you for a meal? 

God’s Hospitality

Describe God’s hospitality towards you. 

What steps do you need to take to share God’s hospitality with others?

What are your favorite examples of hospitality in scripture?

Love and Hospitality

Describe the difference between God loving us versus impressing us. Why is this important?

Describe how loving others undergirds hospitality?

I hope you can see that hospitality is more than just providing lodging and food to others. Those ways of providing hospitality are certainly useful and needed, but they are only the beginning steps. Genuine hospitality exists when one provides a safe environment where a friend or stranger receives an opportunity to experience Christ’s love through us. 

Take a moment to listen to this beautiful Mark Hayes arrangement of the hymn They’ll Know We Are Christians

How do the words of this hymn inspire you to practice hospitality this week?


Barbara Lynn


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